28 April 2008

Election Musings- Pennsylvania Edition

Hillary Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary last week. I’m rather disappointed about in her victory for several reasons. First and foremost, the longer this bitter contest continues, the more it will continue to divide people. Obviously, supporters on both sides continue to grow more impassioned. But beyond that there is a rift in the feminist community between second wave Hillary supporters and third wave Obama supporters. I think that the longer we go without a candidate, the harder it will be to heal the rift. Will we repeat the mistakes of 1968 and wind up with McCain in the house?

Here’s another thing that concerns me: in just about two weeks, I will begin working on the campaign trail. I will be running a canvassing office in Chicago, working to promote progressive candidates at the state and national levels. Since the progressive candidate is still up in the air, we will have to begin simply arguing against McCain. Personally, I would rather run a campaign in favor of someone, focusing on her positives, than run one against an individual, focusing on her negatives. I have done canvassing and call center work on congressional and gubernatorial elections for the last two years, and one theme that I hear often is how disillusioned the average American is with negative campaigning. Running a campaign against McCain and not in favor of Obama or Clinton will likely decrease our support. Kerry ran as the anti-Republican candidate in 2004, and I believe it ultimately harmed him.

Finally, I think that based on voter trends over the last two presidential elections, the youth vote is absolutely crucial to winning the presidency. Youth are mobilized like never before- and behind the charismatic junior senator from Illinois. If Clinton takes the nomination in a coup at convention, many of these youth are going to be disenfranchised, probably resulting in reduced support for the democratic candidate. Again, this feeds my nagging suspicion that we will not win back the White House is Clinton gets the nomination.

Obama is still ahead in delegates- and he is winning substantially by total number of votes. We were all outraged in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but not the presidency. By that logic, shouldn’t Obama get our nomination? Ultimately, I believe that we need to focus our energy, and keep our eyes on the prize- winning back the White House. Although I am just an amateur pundit, I really think that Obaba is the candidate most likely to win that prize.

*As a side note, I am currently about halfway through Obama's early memoirs, Dreams from my Father. I think it's an honest, interesting look at race relations in the United States.
Other suggested reading on the topic:
White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and Caucasia, by Danzy Senna.

No comments: